The Fruits of Technology
As Apple's senior vice president for worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller '82 knows how technology can inspire people, which was the case for him at Boston College.
A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Schiller entered the Heights with a passion for marine biology, but he found new inspiration in BC's core curriculum and electives, discovering what would become an enduring interest in computer science.
"In the computer programming class I took at BC, we started out working with punch cards and eventually moved on to line printers," says Schiller. "We were introduced to the basics of programming in C, Pascal, Assembly, and Machine code. It gave me the confidence to be flexible and adapt quickly to emerging technologies in my own career."
After positions as a systems analyst and information technology manager, Schiller joined Apple in 1987 and transitioned into marketing roles. He says it was an on-the-job learning experience, but what made it easier—and continues to keep marketing exciting—are the products themselves, whether it is Apple's now ubiquitous iPod or the newly introduced iPad.
"In many ways, Boston College and Apple are similar," says Schiller. "Both sit at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, creating an environment where people are encouraged to learn, grow, and innovate."
Below, Schiller discusses more about his work and his alma mater:
What is your best BC memory?
Attending the 2008 Frozen Four in Denver with my family and watching men's hockey win a national championship. The best moment of that weekend was the service that was held for the players and their families the morning before the final. It was a remarkable experience to be with a team at that moment, when athletics, education, and spirituality all came together.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
I enjoyed a number of places: studying in Bapst Library, partying when bands came to play in the basement of Lyons, learning computer programming in Gasson, creating art in the studio on Newton Campus, and cheering at basketball games in the old Roberts Center.
What was your first job?
My first job out of school was as a lab technician at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, colocated in Massachusetts General Hospital. After that, I moved into Mass. General to work as a programmer/analyst. That was a great job—it provided me with the freedom to program interesting SAS analyses on large patient datasets on the hospital's mainframe and to maintain outpatient databases on a VAX minicomputer.
What was your favorite BC class?
My favorites were the great electives. I took fascinating classes such as "Physical Oceanography," "Exploration Geophysics," and "Advanced Computer Programming." Not only did I enjoy these classes, but they also helped me to develop an ability to learn new fields of study quickly, which has been a tremendous asset throughout my career.